Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair will defend their Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup against the Catalans Dragons next month after both teams came through a qualifying Festival in Hull.
That will mean Anglo-French encounters on consecutive weekends, as the Cup Final on June 25 is six days after England play France in Manchester in a Mid-Season International – a rivalry which is expected to recur in the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup in England this autumn.
The Rhinos, who have become the dominant force in the domestic game in recent years winning consecutive Challenge Cups in 2019 and 2021 and adding the Betfred Wheelchair Super League title last year, were the only team to maintain a 100% record throughout the Festival with seven straight wins.
They won all six of their matches in the Round Robin stage, including an 8-0 victory against the Catalans, and then beat their old rivals Halifax Panthers 36-6 in the semi final – with England star Nathan Collins scoring 20 of their points through two tries and six goals, and Josh Butler also touching down twice.
But the Dragons, who had flown in from Perpignan on Friday night after accepting an invitation to play in the Challenge Cup for the first time in its current form, grew stronger as the day progressed.
After losing that opening match against Leeds, they strung together six consecutive wins, culminating in a 34-6 demolition of Wigan Warriors in their semi final – with Seb Bechara, who will play for England in the World Cup, influential alongside a number of France internationals.
Wigan had come third in the Round Robin with four wins, and Halifax were fourth after three wins and three defeats in their six matches – effectively sealing their semi final spot with a 10-6 win against London Roosters, who finished fifth.
Hull FC claimed a morale boosting 18-4 victory over Warrington Wolves to ensure they had something to show for their efforts at the Allam Arena.
In the five-team Trophy competition which ran alongside the main tournament, Gravesend Dynamite were dominant throughout to secure a place in the Final against Mersey Storm, who beat Woodland Warriors in a tight semi final.
Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup Festival
Round Robin results:
Hull FC 6 Wigan Warriors 36, Warrington Wolves 0 Halifax Panthers 18, London Roosters 0 Leeds Rhinos 20, Halifax 36 Hull 6, Warrington 0 Wigan 30, Catalans Dragons 0 Leeds Rhinos 8, Halifax Panthers 2 Wigan Warriors 11, Hull 18 Warrington 4, Catalans 30 Roosters 4, Halifax 0 Catalans 42, Hull 0 Leeds Rhinos 18, Warrington Wolves 4 London Roosters 20, Catalans 30 Hull 0, Halifax 6 Leeds Rhinos 24, Roosters 6 Wigan 10, Leeds Rhinos 8 Wigan 6, Catalans 40 Warrington 0, Roosters 6 Halifax 10, Leeds Rhinos 22 Warrington 0, Wigan 4 Catalans 20, Roosters 10 Hull 8
Catalans Dragons 30 Wigan Warriors 6, Leeds Rhinos 36 Halifax Panthers 6